European group wants 5G to be 100x faster than 4G

The 5G PPP also wants the future standard to account for IoT

Panelists discussing a European vision statement on 5G mobile technology posed for a group photo on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Panelists discussing a European vision statement on 5G mobile technology posed for a group photo on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

5G should go 100 times faster than 4G, connect 1,000 times as many devices and carry 1,000 times as much traffic in a given area, a European Commission group says.

Those goals are laid out in a vision statement that the Commission's 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G PPP) released on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The document is intended to bring a European perspective to discussions about the next generation of mobile technology, which will be hashed out in a standards effort beginning next year. Commercial deployments should begin in 2020.

The group's recommendations echoed what vendors and carriers are saying about 5G here, looking to the new standard to solidify many of the trends already in play: more spectrum, mixed networks and new kinds of connected devices.

Getting Europe on the same page about what 5G should look like should help to prevent the kinds of standards wars that slowed earlier cellular standards, said Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, at a press conference announcing the report with other leaders on Tuesday.

5G will be an evolution from 4G, so the move will be less disruptive than the shift from 3G to LTE. But the new technology will have to be ready to connect a lot more things, including driverless cars and Internet of Things devices, the paper said. It's expected to have a big impact on industries that weren't necessarily on the agenda when 4G was being developed, including transportation, payments and health care, said Nokia Networks Chief Technology Officer Hossein Moiin.

Consumers should be able to expect 50M bps (bits per second) on 5G where they typically need it, and high-speed service should be more reliable.

But 5G will have to do more than deliver fat pipes to consumers. Instead, the standard should have three goals to meet the requirements for different uses: High throughput for services like video, low energy use for long-lived battery-powered devices such as sensors, and short delays for time-sensitive uses like self-driving cars and remote medicine, the group said.

The new standard will need to cover many new technologies for cellular networks themselves, including heterogeneous networks of small and large cells and Wi-Fi. Meeting its goals for 5G will require more spectrum from untapped bands, especially ones above 6GHz, the group said. High-frequency mobile networks may take years to become practical, but vendors such as Nokia are already demonstrating it at MWC.

In the background, carriers will need NFV (network functions virtualization) to scale out their infrastructure and roll out new types of services, the group said. That work is already happening, too.

One thing that needs work soon is getting European countries on the same page about what frequencies to use for mobile, Oettinger said.

"Before the end of this decade we need a European spectrum policy, or we can't use new technologies," he said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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